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    Jump survivor had struggled with depression

    By TODD WRIGHT

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published June 1, 2001


    ST. PETERSBURG -- Hanns F. Jones, who survived jumping off the Sunshine Skyway bridge on Wednesday, had been visibly depressed about problems with his girlfriend just a few days earlier, a friend said.

    Jones, 35, was in intensive care Thursday at Bayfront Medical Center after suffering rib and lung injuries.

    "He was real upset. All he talked about is how he was under a lot of stress because he was about to break up with his girlfriend," said Jose Llano, who Jones stayed with Monday night.

    Llano, a Tampa resident, said the last time he saw Jones was around 1 p.m. Tuesday when he drove off in a 1972 Ford pickup.

    Florida Highway Patrol officer Gerald Triplett reported that same pickup was found abandoned on the bridge a few feet from where Jones jumped. On the truck's dashboard, Triplett found Jones' wallet and a Father's Day card that had the words, "Love, Your Son," on the inside.

    Jones dropped nearly 200 feet from the center of the bridge before crashing into the water and swimming 40 yards to some rocks attached to a support pillar.

    Jones, an inventor, was in business with Viable Products L.C. in Tampa.

    In 1999, he received a patent from the U.S. Patent Office for an invention called the Sock Locker, designed to keep pairs of socks together while being washed. He sold the idea to Viable Products.

    Jeffrey Gitto, a business associate of Jones, said he was unsuccessful in attempts to reach Jones over the past two months.

    "Hanns was very conscious about what people thought of him or his ideas," said Gitto, who has known Jones for six years.

    According to Llano, Jones had been staying with him off and on for the last six months and had recently gotten a job as a part-time bathroom valet at Mons Venus, a nude-dance club in Tampa.

    Llano said girlfriend troubles often brought Jones to his home.

    "As far as I know, he had no where else to go," said Llano.

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